Q: What makes a root canal an emergency?
A: A root canal is considered an emergency when the infected pulp inside the tooth causes severe pain and swelling. This can occur if the infection is left untreated for an extended time or if the infection is particularly severe. In some cases, the infection can spread beyond the tooth and into surrounding tissue, posing a serious health risk. If you have severe pain or swelling in or around a tooth, you should see Dr. Bibb as soon as possible to determine whether you require a root canal.
Q: How urgent is a cracked tooth?
A:A cracked tooth can be a serious issue that needs a dentist's immediate attention. Small cracks that do not extend below the gumline may not cause any symptoms and do not need to be treated right away. However, if the crack is significant or extends below the gumline, it may cause further issues and pain, and sensitivity. The best course of action for treating a cracked tooth should be determined by Dr. Bibb as soon as possible if you suspect you have one.
Q: Tooth knocked out - Teeth knocked out
A: To improve the chances of the tooth being saved, Dr. Bibb suggests doing the following: Handle the tooth carefully. Avoid touching the root of the tooth (the part of the tooth that was embedded in the gum).
If the tooth is dirty, hold it by the upper part (the crown) and rinse it off with milk or contact lens solution until most of the dirt is washed away. If you don't have either of those available, then it is best to leave the tooth alone. Wiping it off with a handkerchief or shirttail may cause additional damage to the microscopic cells still on the root surface.
It is important to keep the tooth moist. If possible, drop it into a glass of milk. If no milk is available, then place the tooth in the mouth between the cheek and gum.
A young child who has had a tooth knocked out may not be able to safely "store" the tooth in his or her mouth without swallowing it, so don't give the tooth to a young child for safe-keeping in his or her mouth. Place the tooth in milk or have the child spit into a container and place the tooth in the cup with the saliva. The most important thing is to keep the tooth moist. Use a cup of water if nothing else is available.
Get to a see us as quickly as possible. If getting to the office immediately after a tooth has been knocked out is impossible, then you may want to try slipping the tooth back into its socket. In many cases, it will slip right in. Make sure it's facing the right way. Don't try to force it into the socket. If it doesn't go back into place easily and without pressure, then its better just to hold it between the cheek and gum or to keep it in milk, saliva or water.
Q: Sports Safety: Avoiding tooth and mouth injuries
In children and adults, sports injuries are common. Dentists estimate that between 13% and 39% of dental injuries occur while playing sport. About 80% of all dental injuries affect at least one of the front teeth. If you or your children enjoy sports or other high-risk activities, protect yourself. We recommend the use of custom-made mouthguards. Mouthguards prevent about 200,000 mouth injuries a year. Give our office a call, and we can discuss the professional custom-fit mouthguard benefits with you.
Q: Partially dislodged tooth
Sometimes a tooth is knocked loose or comes partway out of its socket because of an injury. We call this an extruded tooth. If the tooth is not broken and the nerve and blood vessels are still attached, Dr. Bibb can likely save the tooth. To save the tooth, you need to contact us right away. Leave the tooth in your mouth even though it is partially out of the socket. Take an over-the-counter pain reliever and apply a cold pack to relieve pain until you reach our office.
Q: Lost filling or crown
A: Sometimes fillings or crowns fall out. In some cases, a filling or crown may become loose because there is decay underneath it. The decay destroys part of the tooth, so it no longer has a tight hold on the crown or filling. These situations are rarely an emergency. However, it can be painful because the exposed tooth tissue is often sensitive to temperature, pressure or air. If you lose a crown, put it in a safe place and make an appointment to see us as soon as possible. Don't wait too long. What is left of the tooth will not be as strong as your crown. It could be damaged more without the crown to protect it. Also, when a crown is missing for a long time, your teeth may move into the space where the crown was. If this happens your crown may no longer fit.
Q: Severe Pain (Not from trauma)
A: Any injury to the gums or teeth can be very painful. At other times, you may have dental pain and not know why. For example, sudden pain may be caused by pieces of food that come in contact with a decayed area of the tooth. Food, heat or cold may create pressure near the nerve and cause pain. The nerve inside the tooth also may be exposed if you lose a filling or crown. Pain that gets worse over time can also be caused by food that's stuck between your tooth and gum. If you don't brush and floss well, the bits of food remain. Bacteria multiply in this area, and an infection of the tooth and gum may develop. This type of infection is called an abscess. It can be at the root end of the tooth (in bone) or in the gums. An abscess can be a serious health problem if it is not treated. If swelling inside or outside of the mouth is occurring, you need to seek help immediately either through our office or your medical doctor. Call us to make an appointment so that we can evaluate the cause of your pain and get you back to health quickly.
Q: Injuries of the lip and gum
A: Trauma to the lips, tongue and inside of the mouth is quite common. The soft flesh of the lips and their exposed location make them vulnerable to injury. Any cut inside the mouth usually bleeds heavily because of the rich supply of blood to the area. Many lip and tongue injuries occur during sports activities. They often can be prevented through the use of a mouth guard. We can create a professional, custom fit mouth guard for you. Contact our office for more information. At home, you can clean injured skin surfaces with mild soapy water and a soft, clean cloth. To clean cuts inside the mouth, rinse with salt water or a hydrogen peroxide solution (one part hydrogen peroxide and one part water). Be sure not to swallow this peroxide rinse. However, do not be concerned if it foams. This is what the rinse normally does when it contacts mouth tissue. If your lip is swollen or bruised, apply a cold compress. If there is bleeding, apply pressure with a clean cloth for at least 5 minutes. Using ice can help limit swelling, bleeding and discomfort. Wrap crushed ice in clean gauze or a clean piece of cloth and hold it on the affected area.